On Screen Acting Perfection

People who can act the socks of those around them, and because I dont believe in differentiation here, am combining the guys and the gals in one list...
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Philip Seymour Hoffman
Actor, Capote
Film and stage actor and theater director Philip Seymour Hoffman was born in the Rochester, New York, suburb of Fairport on July 23, 1967. He was the son of Marilyn (Loucks), a lawyer and judge, and Gordon Stowell Hoffman, a Xerox employee, and was mostly of German, Irish, English and Dutch ancestry...
“ Only the top 2 in this list are technically ranked, so here lies my favourite actor, and he's a man am reasonably certain can do absolutely anything he puts his mind to! He started as a character actor with affiliations to certain directors, in particular PT Anderson, whose skills have slowly shone like the birth of an acting sun that now burns brightly over the Hollywood hills and dazzles those who stare directly at him. His authenticity, conviction, dramatic timing and comedic abilities lend him the ability to become any person he wants, and all without an iota of the usual Hollywood gloss that suffuses most of the star spangled acting fraternity. In case you couldn't tell, I think he's rather good! ” - paradoxal-al
Daniel Day-Lewis
Born in London, England, Daniel Michael Blake Day-Lewis is the second child of Cecil Day-Lewis (aka Nicholas Blake) (Poet Laureate of England) and his second wife, Jill Balcon. His maternal grandfather was Sir Michael Balcon, an important figure in the history of British cinema and head of the famous Ealing Studios...
“ It's a close call between my top 2, but as recently proved with his record breaking 3rd acting Oscar, Mr Day Lewis is, maniacal methods aside, a phenomenal chameleon who disappears into his characters almost peerlessly. Just look at the 3 roles he has won for to see 3 totally different, but totally authentic people and understand why this man deserves every plaudit he receives. There is madness in his method, but none can deny the success in his madness! ” - paradoxal-al
Ian McKellen
Widely regarded as one of greatest stage and screen actors, both in his native Great Britain and internationally, twice nominated for the Oscar and recipient of every major theatrical award in UK and US, Ian Murray McKellen was born on May 25, 1939 in Burnley, Lancashire, England, to Margery Lois (Sutcliffe) and Denis Murray McKellen...
“ I always liked Sir Ian, but it wasn't until I saw him on stage in a production of King Lear that I truly realised what a phenomenal actor he really is, and I don't like Shakespeare! The man is a fun loving legend whose screen presence and subtleties are the envy of his peers. Be it small or large roles he excels, look no further than a little Brit rom com called Jack and Sarah to see how he can pull the rug out from under the feet of his contemporaries and steal the show utterly with only about 5 mins of screen time. Utterly awesome! ” - paradoxal-al
Meryl Streep
Considered by many critics to be the greatest living actress, Meryl Streep has been nominated for the Academy Award an astonishing 20 times, and has won it three times. Meryl was born Mary Louise Streep in 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, to Mary Wolf (Wilkinson), a commercial artist, and Harry William Streep...
“ It seems like an easy option to laud someone so decorated as to be a shoe in regarding popular opinion, but the simple fact is that lady Meryl is every bit as good as the constant nominations for awards suggests. Another of the people on this list whose skills extend to the chameleonic, disappearing into her roles which are as diverse as the accents she seems capable of taking on. I would never have paid credence to her essaying a notorious leader of the British Isles, but man did she nail it, as she does every part she plays, equal parts subtle, nuanced and a proven sense of fun and comedy timing that borders on prescient. Brilliant by anyones standards. ” - paradoxal-al
Sam Rockwell
Actor, Moon
Sam Rockwell was born on November 5, 1968, in San Mateo, California, the child of two actors, Pete Rockwell and Penny Hess. The family moved to New York when he was two years old, living first in the Bronx and later in Manhattan. When Sam was five years old, his parents split up, at which point he and his father moved to San Francisco...
“ Considered by certain anoraks as one of the elite 25%'ers, namely an actor whose presence in a movie automatically improves it 25%, or in this case, with Moon, hits it out of the park at a 1.0 batting average. Sam's proved over and over again that he just oozes pure quality, either stealing the thunder from his co-stars or quietly and effectively leading usually independent movies with charisma pouring from every orifice. Like it says in the tin, expect anything with this guy in to be at least worth a watch, just to see what he does next. ” - paradoxal-al
George C. Scott
George C. Scott was an immensely talented actor, a star of screen, stage and television. He was born on October 18, 1927 in Wise, Virginia, to Helena Agnes (Slemp) and George Dewey Scott. At the age of eight, his mother died, and his father, an executive at Buick, raised him. In 1945, he joined the United States Marines and spent four years with them...
“ This guy just eviscerated the screen whenever he was on it, when they say the words powerhouse in any cliched description of a giant performance then it could well have been Mr Scott that first inspired the metaphor. Famous for his disdain of awards and competition between actors, whilst garnering so many himself, his unique features and powerful personality meant he shone like a luminescent brand next to his co-stars even when just sitting and looking (see The Hustler). Brilliant and oft forgotten screen star, more should be reminded of his immense talent and watch his movies. ” - paradoxal-al
Gene Hackman
Actor, Unforgiven
Eugene Allen Hackman was born in San Bernardino, California, the son of Anna Lyda Elizabeth (Gray) and Eugene Ezra Hackman, who operated a newspaper printing press. He is of Pennsylvania Dutch (German), English, and Scottish ancestry, partly by way of Canada, where his mother was born. After several moves...
“ Whilst maybe not having quite the range of some actors on this list, Gene Hackman made up for it with sheer power and gravitas in his performances. He could essay subtlety and nuance as well as anyone, and his personality is so big it felt like it oozed out of every performance he put on screen. I say he has no range but then watch movies like The French Connection and Unforgiven, then watch The Royal Tenenbaums and Superman and it's fair to say that personality aside, the man could act nearly anyone off screen, and his retirement from cinema in 2004 is a year to be lamented for the loss of a unique voice, never a new Hackman to be seen again, sad indeed. ” - paradoxal-al
Amy Adams
Actress, Arrival
Amy Lou Adams was born in Vicenza, Veneto, Italy, to American parents, Kathryn (Hicken) and Richard Kent Adams, a U.S. serviceman who was stationed at Caserma Ederle in Italy at the time. She was raised in a Mormon family of seven children in Castle Rock, Colorado, and has English, as well as smaller amounts of Danish, Swiss-German, and Norwegian, ancestry...
“ To put Amy Adams so high on the list here may seem strange, though there is no real order here, but as an actress in Hollywood she may well be carving herself one of the most diverse and effective careers out there, quietly, and off the radar to a degree, which is often the sign of a an actress who can disappear into her roles extremely effectively. She has 4 (worthy) Oscar nominations to her name so far and counting, and chooses brilliant roles that she fills so effectively from Catch me if you Can, Doubt, through to The Fighter and Man of Steel. I find her both adorable and brilliant, and one of the sad few actresses in Hollywood who I genuinely believe has talent to spare. ” - paradoxal-al
Ellen Burstyn
Actress, Interstellar
Ellen Burstyn was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Correine Marie (Hamel) and John Austin Gillooly. She is of mostly Irish, German, and French-Canadian descent. Ellen worked a number of jobs before she became an actress. At 14, she was a short-order cook at a lunch counter. After graduating from Detroit's Cass Technical High School...
“ An old hat these days probably best remembered for her role as the mother in The Exorcist, she seems to have taken a back seat to the job these days, with very few recent credits to her name, but she was, and is an actress of extreme subtlety whose naturalistic performances marked her out as a lady of skill beyond most of her contemporaries. The last thing I have seen her in was the darkly brilliant Requiem for a Dream, a film in which she was so good I look back at the other nominees of that year for the big awards and wonder who it was who felt she somehow didn't stand out above them all. She's still out there and working, and if her name is involved, you can guarantee a level of quality from the get go, and that, is the sign of a great actress. ” - paradoxal-al
Paul Newman
Screen legend, superstar, and the man with the most famous blue eyes in movie history, Paul Leonard Newman was born on January 26, 1925, in Cleveland, Ohio, the second son of Theresa (Fetsko) and Arthur Sigmund Newman. Paul's father was Jewish, the son of immigrants from Poland and Hungary; he owned a successful sporting goods store...
“ What a star, this guy had it all, looks, ability, and a personality everyone said who worked with him was one of the most generous and nice people to work in the Hollywood establishment. Maybe not the greatest actor on this list, but without a doubt my favourite 'star' of all time, he oozed quality, picked his roles for their challenge over paychecks (maybe excluding The Towering Inferno), and has played on screen some of the greatest and most memorable anti-establishment roles of all time, with Cool Hand Luke standing out as a peerless stone cold classic. His loss was sad, but there's the best part of 50 years of his movies to trawl through to see this great man work, and to me that is time very well spent indeed. ” - paradoxal-al
Tony Chiu-Wai Leung
Actor, Ying xiong
Tony Leung Chiu Wai was born in Hong Kong on 27 June 1962. He and his younger sister were raised by their mother after his father left them. In 1982, after passing the training courses of TVB, Tony became a TV actor and became famous for his comedy style in such TV shows as Lu ding ji or Jue dai shuang jiao...
“ A Hong Kong based acting par excellence who has never felt the need to come cross over to Hollywood like some of his starrier alumni (Chow Yun Fat), his roles are as diverse and prolific as any actors you would hope to meet, and he is never less than authentic, in particular when essaying vulnerability (despite his many action movie credentials). He has a strong and successful working relationship with several directors, including the peerless Wong Kar Wai, and John Woo, and continues to churn out brilliant work as he has for at least 2/3 decades now, and somehow still looks like he's barely 30, unbelievable. He puts many of his western contemporaries to shame, one worth going through his back catalogue to see some serious acting chops... with subtitles, none of this dubbed nonsense! ” - paradoxal-al
Glenn Close
Six time Academy Award-nominated actress Glenn Close was born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut. She is the daughter of Elizabeth Mary Hester "Bettine" (Moore) and William Taliaferro Close (William Close), a prominent doctor. Both of her parents were from upper-class northeastern families. Glenn...
“ Peerless, and probably the most overlooked in terms of actual winning of awards of any actress alive, in particular regarding her output of the 80's and 90's, Glenn Close is another of the true chameleons, effectively portraying so many different characters and riding the moral spectrum from one end to the other in a way almost no other actress has managed. She has moved largely to television now, which is a loss to the movie going world, she may well be one of my all time favourites and her abilities should be lauded continuously and constantly by all who watch her- she needs a vocal and massive fan club, because she is truly brilliant in everything she does, a genuine 50%er! ” - paradoxal-al
Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Lee Hoffman was born in Los Angeles, California, to Lillian (Gold) and Harry Hoffman, who was a furniture salesman and prop supervisor for Columbia Pictures. He was raised in a Jewish family (from Ukraine, Russia-Poland, and Romania). Hoffman graduated from Los Angeles High School in 1955, and went to Santa Monica City College...
“ Happier to enjoy himself and take it easy these days, at one point, despite a primadonna like reputation and a seriousness that produced one of the most famous spiky quotes between himself and the late great Olivier, he is without a doubt one of the most unlikely of great actors to have come out of the late 60's/70's golden era of Hollywood. His method performances were of such a high calibre he may well have forced expectations of all his films so high he wouldn't be able to match them. You could reel off the list of stand out moments from him and it would go on for some time, it's just fantastic that such a diminutive and unlikely guy has proved that talent can garner its own great level of success, it's no exaggeration to say this man may well be one of my all time favourite on screen actors to watch. ” - paradoxal-al
Julie Walters
Actress, Brave
For decades, British actress and comedienne Dame Julie Walters has served as a sturdy representation of the working class with her passionate, earthy portrayals on England's stage, screen and television. A bona fide talent, her infectious spirit and self-deprecating sense of humor eventually captured the hearts of international audiences...
“ A stalwart more of the British comedy and television world, Julie Walters could be a national treasure, a woman of such outrageously bubbly and effusive character that it drenches her performances and lends them power and authenticity. She is modest to a fault, but when she is given the chance, an actress of such potency that few can match her, and yet she has never chased the stardom that could have undoubtedly been hers, preferring to keep herself grounded at home and enjoy her profession on her terms. In Britain she has given us moments of pure comedy gold with her long standing partnership with Victoria Wood, on the big screen she proved herself versatile and equally as memorable. A National treasure indeed. ” - paradoxal-al
Jack Lemmon
Jack Lemmon was born on February 8, 1925 in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He initially acted on TV before moving to Hollywood for the big screen, cultivating a career that would span decades. An eight time Academy Award nominee, with two wins, Lemmon starred in over 60 films including Some Like It Hot...
“ A member of a very exclusive and select fraternity of actors to have won both best actor and best supporting actor Oscars, Jack Lemon could often be outshone by his starrier colleagues, but this was often due to his immense subtlety as an actor and surprising dramatic range. He is perhaps most famous as Walter Matthau's (another great) straight man in things like the Odd Couple, but his working relationship with Billy Wilder is under-appreciated, as is his legacy in the Hollywood establishment. Comedy timing that was dream like, dramatic chops understated but so effective, he is a much missed genuine actor amongst stars whose contributions to great movies elevated them to classic status. ” - paradoxal-al
Morgan Freeman
With an authoritative voice and calm demeanor, this ever popular American actor has grown into one of the most respected figures in modern US cinema. Morgan was born on June 1, 1937 in Memphis, Tennessee, to Mayme Edna (Revere), a teacher, and Morgan Porterfield Freeman, a barber. The young Freeman...
“ You could easily accuse Morgan Freeman of taking the money, with the sheer number of random small and idle roles he takes that are obviously for the paycheck, but everyone's favourite grandfather figure whose voice is so potent he adorns seemingly every narration out there is when on song, an actor of almost peerless power and presence on the screen. Standing out amongst ensembles (The Dark Knight trilogy) without exception, able to lead a film as ably as he can support, he's garnered numerous accolades across the years, but has the wonderful distinction of being the soul and heart of a movie that many consider the greatest of all time in The Shawshank Redemption. The 90's were at times golden, and this can be in no small thanks to this man right here, whose performances at that time and since have been so key to the success of some truly great movies. ” - paradoxal-al
Judi Dench
Actress, Skyfall
Judi Dench was born in York, England, to Eleanora Olive (Jones), who was from Dublin, Ireland, and Reginald Arthur Dench, a doctor from Dorset, England. She attended Mount School in York, and studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama. She has performed with Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre...
“ We love Dame Judi, it's that simple, I'm British and she's an institution, it's that simple, and she could be put on here for no other reason than so gainfully essaying Skyfall's one and only curse word with such aplomb! ” - paradoxal-al
Alec Guinness
Alec Guinness was an English actor. He is known for his six collaborations with David Lean: Herbert Pocket in Great Expectations (1946), Fagin in Oliver Twist (1948), Col. Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor), Prince Faisal in Lawrence of Arabia (1962)...
“ Obi-wan Kenobi. 'Nuff said. ” - paradoxal-al
Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando is widely considered the greatest movie actor of all time, rivaled only by the more theatrically oriented Laurence Olivier in terms of esteem. Unlike Olivier, who preferred the stage to the screen, Brando concentrated his talents on movies after bidding the Broadway stage adieu in 1949...
“ Possibly the most famous name of them all when it comes to sheer acting talent within the Hollywood establishment, so influential as an actor we may not have had half the greats we have had since, but whose personal life was almost more colourful than his on-screen life, and an oddball, almost nihilistic attitude to his status as an actor (his acceptance for The Godfather at the Oscars still makes me laugh). The original total chameleon, and perhaps greatest proponent of the method (with Pacino, Hoffman and Day-Lewis running him close), he revolutionised the way actors approached their craft with demonstrations of such deep and effective immersion that his distinctive features disappeared into each and every character he played. Is he the best, I'm not sure he was, is he one of the best, without a shadow of a doubt, and he could very well be THE most influential. ” - paradoxal-al
Gary Oldman
Gary Oldman is a talented British born movie actor who played Sid Vicious in Sid & Nancy, Drexl in True Romance, and George Smiley in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He starred in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and the remake of RoboCop. He is also an English filmmaker, musician and author. Renowned for his "big" acting style...
“ A personal favourite who just seems to get better with age like a fine wine, known earlier in his career for over the top, scenery chewing turns as generally bad people (Dracula, Leon), as time has gone on he has become ever more layered, proving he can switch, sometimes in movie, from potentially malevolent bad guy to sympathetic hero. He gives the impression in his screen performances these days that nuance is something that comes very naturally to him, an unassuming actor whose observational abilities and feel for character are inherent and natural, very few could hope to have his seemingly natural skill to emote and provide every little tick he infuses into his performances. Without a doubt, up there as one of my all time favourites, magnetic and brilliant. ” - paradoxal-al
Helen Mirren
Actress, The Queen
Dame Helen Mirren was born in Queen Charlotte's Hospital in West London. Her mother, Kathleen Alexandrina Eva Matilda (Rogers), was from a working-class English family, and her father, Vasiliy Petrovich Mironov, was a Russian-born civil servant, from Kuryanovo, whose own father was a diplomat. Mirren attended St...
“ The dame should get kudos first and foremost for being one of the sexiest 60+ year olds ever, but then Helen Mirren has always had powerful sex appeal in a very natural way, couple this with some pretty strong acting chops and you have yourself a winning combination. She has range, practiced on both TV and in movies, and even more successfully in the West End in London where her recent show has been a box office record breaker for theatre revenue. She has some serious pulling power, may it last for some time. ” - paradoxal-al
Audrey Tautou
Actress, Amélie
Audrey Justine Tautou was born on August 9, 1976 in Beaumont, France, to Evelyne Marie Laure (Nuret), a teacher, and Bernard Tautou, a dental surgeon. Audrey showed an interest for comedy at an early age and started her acting lessons at 'Cours Florent'. In 1998 she won the best young actress award in the ninth 'Jeune Comedien de Cinema Festival' in Bezier...
“ I love her because she is so adorable, I may be tainted by Amelie, am not sure, but everything about Audrey Tautou screams love me, not in a showy way, but naturally, and to top it all off the girl can act too, dangerous, very dangerous indeed! ” - paradoxal-al
Denzel Washington
Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. was born on December 28, 1954 in Mount Vernon, New York. He is the middle of three children of a beautician mother, Lennis, from Georgia, and a Pentecostal minister father, Denzel Washington, Sr., from Virginia. After graduating from high school, Denzel enrolled at Fordham University...
“ I have never been sure that Denzel acts so much as just has a magnetic personality, much like Tom Hanks he feels like Denzel in every part, yet a slightly different Denzel, one that has become Denzel the train driver, or Denzel the civil war hero, or Denzel the corrupt drug dealing cop. Its almost as if the parts fit around him rather than he fitting into them, and its a powerful skill that makes him one of Hollywood's most effective and enduring leading men. I for one can't wait to see which Denzel is going to turn up next thats for sure... ” - paradoxal-al
Jeff Bridges
Jeffrey Leon Bridges was born on December 4, 1949 in Los Angeles, California, the son of well-known film and TV star Lloyd Bridges and his long-time wife Dorothy Dean Bridges (née Simpson). He grew up amid the happening Hollywood scene with big brother Beau Bridges. Both boys popped up, without billing...
“ Jeff Bridges is Mr Affectation, a tick ridden quirkmeister that somehow where others descend into caricature, manages to channel it into a creatively unique persona each and every performance. It's probably his nuance and eye for subtle little characterisations that makes him so much more than the average tick monkey, but there's no denying that his range and breadth of performance is surprisingly staggering when you go over his back catalogue, from 70's impetuous young idol, through 80's young adult, up to his current status as an acting god amongst men. He chooses his parts wisely, plays them in a way no one else would, and becomes the people he is essaying, whilst others watch in wonder and ponder how it was he did it. ” - paradoxal-al
Matt Damon
Matthew Paige Damon was born on October 8, 1970, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Kent Damon, a stockbroker, realtor and tax preparer, and Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early childhood education professor at Lesley University. Matt has an older brother named Kyle who is now a sculptor. His father is of English and Scottish descent...
“ Their Oscar acceptance speech in 1997 in equal parts charmed and irked those that watched, 2 kids that burst on the scene via Gus Van Sant's direction of their own Good Will Hunting. Since then, Ben has gone on to prove to be a surprisingly effective director, but the acting kudos (on this case ironically as I actually thought Ben was better in the afore mentioned movie) has to go to Matt, who has since proved that he is adept, brave, and utterly convincing in all his acting choices since. He's known to be pretty much the ultimate collaborator as a star, humble, inventive and experimental in his approach, which translates across the screen to bing, great success. I think Matt may be the best of the younger stars working today, even though he isn't that young anymore, there's nothing he can't do when he puts his mind to it, and I for one love to watch him work. ” - paradoxal-al
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. has evolved into one of the most respected actors in Hollywood. With an amazing list of credits to his name, he has managed to stay new and fresh even after over four decades in the business. Downey was born April 4, 1965 in Manhattan, New York, the son of writer, director and filmographer Robert Downey Sr. and actress Elsie Downey (née Elsie Ann Ford)...
“ Drugs stopped this man from being the legend he undoubtedly could be and started demonstrating in his early career, but Marvel handed him a role he was born to play and now he's one of the biggest stars on the planet, the refreshing thing being that this was a man whose name was made early on for his ability rather than his obvious star power. Now you can put him in an all bells and whistles out and out blockbuster of huge magnitude, place an ensemble cast of great young and old actors around him, and everything and everyone else pales under the bright light of his presence, charisma and acting prowess. He's here for a reason, and with any luck, he's here to stay. ” - paradoxal-al
Eli Wallach
One of Hollywood's finest character / "Method" actors, Eli Wallach was in demand for over 60 years (first film/TV role was 1949) on stage and screen, and has worked alongside the world's biggest stars, including Clark Gable, Clint Eastwood, Steve McQueen, Marilyn Monroe, Yul Brynner, Peter O'Toole, and Al Pacino, to name but a few...
“ An old master probably best known for his role as the ugly member of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, and another exponent of the method. As a name he's probably better known amongst aficionado's than the general movie going public, it feels like he has been around forever but this is a man that can disappear into his roles utterly, with skills so intense they make others pale into insignificance. The man is pushing 100 years old, and he has only recently (2010) seemed to stop working on any regular basis, a collaborator of the most generous kind who seems to love the craft as much as the trappings that come with it, a quiet master that has glided through decades of theatre and movies, and a man that could teach many of the younger generation a thing or two. ” - paradoxal-al
Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola in Long Beach, California, the son of comparative literature professor August Coppola (whose brother is director Francis Ford Coppola) and dancer/choreographer Joy Vogelsang. He is of Italian (father) and Polish, German, and English (mother) descent. Cage changed his name early in his career to make his own reputation...
“ Madcap, improvisational loon with several youtube videos dedicated purely to his famous on-screen meltdowns, the loonytune member of the coppola clan who changed his name inspired by comic books, not many people don't know the distinctive features and delivery of Nicholas Cage. Despite a decline in quality of choices in recent years, I'm an unashamed Cage apologist, an actor who when he's good is actually rather brilliant (the incomparable performance in Leaving Las Vegas is epic), he has so many memorable moments to his name in the last 3 decades that it is criminal to over look his unique contribution to the movie establishment. Even recently he has managed to churn out a few memorable performances, Bad Lieutenant and Kick-ass spring to mind, but his mid 80's to late 90's output is a smorgasbord of oddly brilliant character work, one of the more unusual stars, and always a personal fave. ” - paradoxal-al
Robert De Niro
Actor, Goodfellas
One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943 in Manhattan, New York City, to artists Virginia (Admiral) and Robert De Niro Sr. His paternal grandfather was of Italian descent, and his other ancestry is English, Dutch, German, French and Irish. He was trained at the Stella Adler Conservatory and the American Workshop...
“ His hey day may well have been truly left behind him, all signs indicate he's less driven than he was in the 70's, 80's and early 90's, but he can still turn in a good performance as shown in Silver Linings Playbook, but there is no doubt at one time he was the king of the big screen. I never actually liked some of his more acclaimed movies such as Taxi Driver or The Deer Hunter, but there is no doubt that at that time he was so good as to be almost supernatural. His purple patch lasted many years, for my mind all the way through to his last great part as Neil McCauley in the incomparable Heat, and since then he's wained somewhat. In the once ever present argument of De Niro/Pacino, I was once firmly in the De Niro camp, these days it would be a harder argument, but his name still pulls people in, he's undoubtedly one of the greats, and if for nothing else, than that one perfect film moment in Goodfellas, a little bit of Cream, and a whole lotta burgeoning murder... ” - paradoxal-al
Naomi Watts
Actress, King Kong
Naomi Ellen Watts was born on September 28, 1968 in Shoreham, England, to Myfanwy Edwards "Miv" (Roberts), an antiques dealer and costume/set designer, and Peter Watts (Peter Anthony Watts), the road manager to Pink Floyd. Her maternal grandfather was Welsh. Her father died when Naomi was seven and she began to follow her mother and her brother around England...
“ Little known that she is actually English, settling in Oz later in her young life, Naomi Watts is the pretty, waifish antipodean actress who has quietly churned out quality performance after quality performance in movies for over a decade now. The abortive King Kong aside, she garnered a much deserved Oscar nomination in last years The Impossible, and continues to fly through one good role after another. She's about to tackle the poisoned chalice that is Lady Diana, and it couldn't be in safer hands from an acting perspective, she oozes quality and range, and aint bad on the eyes to boot. ” - paradoxal-al
Al Pacino
One of the greatest actors in all of film history, Al Pacino established himself during one of film's greatest decades, the 1970s, and has become an enduring and iconic figure in the world of American movies. Alfredo James Pacino was born on April 25, 1940, in the Bronx, New York, to an Italian-American family...
“ What can be said about Al Pacino that hasn't already been said- a theatre enthusiast and yet another proponent of the method who was plucked out of obscurity by FFC for the epic Godfather films much to the then bemusement of the producers (shows what they know). His 70's output is a catalogue of classics that would make a great back to back movie session. His output since the mid 90's has been a little suspect at times (check out Donnie Brasco for one of his great underrated performances), he can be a little showy and over egg the goose so to speak, but when he's good he is truly brilliant. There was a time in the great De Niro/Pacino debate I would have immediately plumped for De Niro, these days am not so sure, he may have pushed ahead in my estimations. ” - paradoxal-al
John Malkovich
John Gavin Malkovich was born in Christopher, Illinois, to Joe Anne (Choisser), who owned a local newspaper, and Daniel Leon Malkovich, a state conservation director. His paternal grandparents were Croatian. In 1976, Malkovich joined Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, newly founded by his friend Gary Sinise...
“ He seems in general to want to have a bit more fun than maybe he once did, but at one time there was something about Malkovich that just seared through your eyeballs and into your brain. He's never been in anything outright huge in a critical or box office scale, but he's put in performances that were just complete in their brilliance. Dangerous Liaisons shouldn't have worked, it did, and in large part to this man, In the Line of Fire, a guilty favourite of mine is made by it's 2 leads and the utter conviction to the part of this man here. When he's good he's nigh on unbeatable, and how many actors can claim to have an entire movie dedicated to being about being him, in a nutshell thats it right there. ” - paradoxal-al
Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman was born on a council estate in Acton, West London, to Margaret Doreen Rose (Bartlett) and Bernard Rickman, who worked at a factory. He had English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry. Alan had an older brother David, a younger brother Michael and a younger sister Sheila. When Alan was 8 years old...
“ There aren't many that can claim such a memorable on screen debut as this man had as Hans Gruber in the ever classic Die Hard. He was already 41 at the time but has since carved himself a unique place in both Hollywood and back home in Blighty regarding his mysetrious and enigmatic ability to portray layered and complex characters. The entire Harry Potter series practically revolves around this man's character, for some that would have proved too much, but by the end of an otherwise mediocre series he stay's in the mind and doesn't let you forget, such is his ability. Another I would consider a gem of the British acting establishment, and a unique delivery and personality that guarantees quality every time he steps on stage or screen. ” - paradoxal-al
Tom Hanks
Thomas Jeffrey Hanks was born in Concord, California, to Janet Marylyn (Frager), a hospital worker, and Amos Mefford Hanks, an itinerant cook. His mother's family, originally surnamed "Fraga", was entirely Portuguese, while his father was of mostly English ancestry. Tom grew up in what he has called a "fractured" family...
“ Its hard for poor ole Tom- easy to forget this man was almost exclusively a comedy actor for at least the first decade of his career, but now firmly established as one of the most successful stars of all time. He has surprising depth and range to his ability, something which can be subsumed beneath his massive personality, but when he commits to a role he can be peerless, subtle, engaging, and unique. I usually point to Road to Perdition (average movie aside) as an example of his range, he is so much more adaptable and skilled than many would like to give him credit for. Just don't mention the Dan Brown series... ” - paradoxal-al
James Stewart
James Maitland Stewart was born on May 20, 1908 in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to Elizabeth Ruth (Johnson) and Alexander Maitland Stewart, who owned a hardware store. He was of Scottish, Ulster-Scots, and some English, descent. Stewart was educated at a local prep school, Mercersburg Academy, where he was a keen athlete (football and track), musician (singing and accordion playing), and sometime actor...
“ It's not by chance that I place Jimmy Stewart right below Mr Hanks in the order here, Tom was Jimmy's natural successor, Mr every guy with a distinctive delivery that marked him as a Hollywood nice guy thanks to many of his earlier performances especially with Frank Capra, but also a man of surprising range and depth whose back catalogue is far more diverse than posterity would have us believe. In order to understand what I might mean you need go no further than comparing 2 of his most famous performances, the desperate good guy trying to get control of his life in It's a Wonderful Life, and the nuanced examination of love and obsession in Vertigo. Those two alone would be enough to place him on this list. ” - paradoxal-al
Susan Sarandon
Susan Sarandon was born Susan Abigail Tomalin in New York City, New York, to Lenora Marie (Criscione) and Phillip Leslie Tomalin, a television producer and advertising executive. She is of Italian (mother) and English, Irish, Welsh, and German (father) descent. Soon after the 1968 Democratic convention...
“ A political activist and one half of until recently, Hollywood's most famously successful couple (ignoring Newman and Woodward), Susan Sarandon has slipped from our screens a little in recent times, often getting only matriarchal parts. Much like Dame Helen she has a distinctively non-classic beauty to her, and an ability to control the screen that few other actresses can compete with. Her 80's and 90's output is a catalogue of great roles and performances in great movies that many actresses could only dream to have. She's still as powerful now as she ever was, but it seems Ms Sarandon is happy to take more of a back seat than she once did. ” - paradoxal-al
Ingrid Bergman
Actress, Casablanca
Ingrid Bergman was one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood's lamented Golden Era. Her natural and unpretentious beauty and her immense acting talent made her one of the most celebrated figures in the history of American cinema. Bergman is also one of the most Oscar-awarded actresses, tied with Meryl Streep, both second only to Katharine Hepburn...
“ Until recently Ingrid Bergman was a well known name and not much more to me, but having seen a few of her performances in recent times I have come to understand why she is such an enduring memory in the Hollywood establishment. Her niche was vulnerability, but she was so much more subtly nuanced than most in particular of her generation, and she seemed to find an inner well of character nuance that most around her could not match. She was quietly and demurely beautiful, with a talent to match her looks, and I would recommend anyone to have a little sift through her back catalogue, there are much worse ways to spend your time. ” - paradoxal-al
Anthony Hopkins
Actor, Hannibal
Anthony Hopkins was born on December 31, 1937, in Margam, Wales, to Muriel Anne (Yeats) and Richard Arthur Hopkins, a baker. His parents were both of half Welsh and half English descent. Influenced by Richard Burton, he decided to study at College of Music and Drama and graduated in 1957. In 1965, he moved to London and joined the National Theatre...
“ Another actor who could easily be accused of sleep walking through minor parts at times, but who when he is committed beyond just a paycheck, is utterly magnetically brilliant. He of course will likely forever be remembered best for his viscerally diabolical turn as the amoral Hannibal Lector in Silence of the lambs, but he had been on screen for years before his break through role, often essaying very British gentleman (ironic as am pretty sure he has never used his native Welsh accent in any role he's had). No matter how minor the movie, he has a way of just standing out from his contemporaries, one of the select older crew with gravitas to spare, and supposedly a man of such skill that with minimal preparation can switch on and switch off at will. It's just a shame his choices of movies are often inferior to his immense skills as an actor. ” - paradoxal-al
John Cazale
John Cazale was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to an Irish-American mother, Cecilia (Holland), and an Italian-American father, John Cazale. Cazale only made five feature films in his career, all which many fans and critics alike call classics. But before his film debut, the short The American Way, he won numerous Obie Awards for his stage performances in "The Indian Wants the Bronx" and "The Line"...
“ 5 main stream performances, 4 Oscar nominations, a man who was lost to us all far too early, but what an incandescent career he had for oh so short a time, I will always wonder just how great this man could have been if he had lived for longer, so sadly cut short but so so very good indeed! ” - paradoxal-al
Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson, an American actor, producer, director and screenwriter, is a three-time Academy Award winner and twelve-time nominee. Nicholson is also notable for being one of two actors - the other being Michael Caine - who have received Oscar nomination in every decade from the 1960s through the early 2000s...
“ I'm not as big an advocate as some fans of Nicholson, he can mug the screen to death and back even more than Pacino if he's let loose too much, but it's hard to claim that he hasn't put some truly perfect performances on screen at times. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is mildly overrated in my mind, but he in it however, is not. Chinatown, massively overrated, he, is not. His joker in Batman people thought could never be topped, and it took a truly unsettling performance by a lost too soon young actor to do just that, but for me, weirdly and probably to the ire of other film lovers on here, it is actually his 2nd best actor Oscar winning performance that marks him as a true great- in As Good As It Gets, I think you would be hard pressed to find any actor who could have so subtly essayed those ticks of a OCD afflicted person, be so plain ole unpleasant, and yet still have you rooting for him by the end, it was layered, thoughtful and clever, and a big reason as to why he did in the end, end up on my list. ” - paradoxal-al
Chiwetel Ejiofor
English actor Chiwetel Ejiofor is renowned for his portrayal of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave, for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. He is also known for playing Okwe in Dirty Pretty Things, the Operative in Serenity...
“ A Brit of African descent, more a character actor than a leading man at this stage, usually supporting his more starrier colleagues, but with a range that he is slowly but surely demonstrating is second to none. His breakthrough on the big screen was probably as the lethally dangerous agent in Whedon's Serenity, but he's been in so many movies since, providing brilliant and brave support to Denzel twice in 2 great movies (The Inside Man and American Gangster). There's a lot of talk on the festival circuit right now that he is in for some serious awards attention in his role in 12 Years a Slave- if it garners him as much attention as some think it might then all I can say is about bloody time too! ” - paradoxal-al
Vera Farmiga
Actress, The Conjuring
Vera Farmiga is an American actress who received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Up in the Air and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for her role in Bates Motel. She was born Vera Ann Farmiga, the second of seven children...
“ I love her, I don't know why, but I do. She's subtle, luminescent, and an actress of peerless quality whose dedication to independent cinema is both admirable and laudable. That she is beautiful to boot is always helpful, but most won't recognise her despite garnering Oscar attention for the fabulous Up in the Air, and a stunning support turn in The Departed. She's been around for some time, and its one of those cases where her ability to metamorphose between characters is both a testament to her skill and a possible road block in the way of bigger success, but of many of the actors/actresses working today, Vera Farmiga is a much underrated and ignored queen of the screen. ” - paradoxal-al
Leonardo DiCaprio
Actor, Inception
Few actors in the world have had a career quite as diverse as Leonardo DiCaprio's. DiCaprio has gone from relatively humble beginnings, as a supporting cast member of the sitcom Growing Pains and low budget horror movies, such as Critters 3, to a major teenage heartthrob in the 1990s, as the hunky lead actor in movies such as Romeo + Juliet and Titanic...
“ There are a few pretty boy actors who make brave choices in Hollywood today, the triumvirate being Jonny Depp, Brad Pitt, and this man, and controversially I would say that the best of the bunch is indeed Leonardo. He's a Newmanesk star who grips the screen and doesn't let go, his choices are brave and he tackles everything he can get his hands on, from golden era hero in Titanic, to sadistic and vicious man of wealth in Django Unchained (there's a healthy case to put that Waltz's Oscar maybe should have gone to this man). As far as stars working in Hollywood go today, almost none could probably claim to have had as much success with as many different characters as Leonardo has, and as an actor he is much more subtle than people credit him, his star power burns so bright as to eclipse his often brilliant performances- The Departed and Inception stand out, he's the one big star today who genuinely has me interested in every movie he brings out. ” - paradoxal-al
Pete Postlethwaite
Actor, Inception
Classically-trained actor Pete Postlethwaite was born Peter William Postlethwaite in 1946 and was a distinguished character actor on stage, TV and film. Growing up in Warrington, Lancashire amid middle-class surroundings, he went to college and while completing his studies developed an interest in theatre...
“ The late great Pete has one sterling accolade and endorsement to his name, no less than Stephen Spielberg himself said that Pete Postlethwaite was perhaps the best actor he ever worked with, and that just about sums up this character actor par excellence whose skills as an actor were as prolific as his output. A strange looking man who held the screen and had presence to spare, working best as parts of an ensemble and yet always standing out, he was perhaps taken from us too early with cancer, but his hard work attitude mean we have a huge catalogue of movies to go back to and admire his skills on screen. I miss him already, an unsung hero of both Brit and Hollywood cinema! ” - paradoxal-al